Neir Eshel '07, alumnus

Chances are when you wake up in the morning, you start drafting a mental to-do list of what you want to accomplish during the day. So does Neir Eshel ’07, except as a senior at Princeton his list included figuring out how our brains continually update and prioritize that list. Using a process called transcranial magnetic stimulation, Eshel worked to single out the biological roots behind complex thought processes.

After graduating, Eshel continued his research in this area. He studied for two years in London, supported by a Marshall Scholarship and earned a master's degree in clinical neuroscience. On his return from London, he entered the M.D./Ph.D. program at Harvard Medical School, where he is concentrating on neuroscience and is "thrilled to be building my clinical knowledge step by step." He also is an advocate for removing health disparities in the LGBT population.

The native of Bethesda, Md., was a molecular biology major at Princeton with a certificate in neuroscience. Eshel worked closely with Professor Jonathan Cohen, director of Princeton’s Center for the Study of Brain, Mind and Behavior and co-director of the University’s recently announced neuroscience institute, to map and model which parts of the brain control decision making.

Eshel’s own mind is far from one-tracked. He’s as passionate about scientific public policy and world health issues as he is about his lab work with the human brain. During his time at Princeton, he landed internships with the World Health Organization in Geneva and the National Institute of Mental Health.

Eshel tried to mix things up at Princeton by taking at least one class every semester that was entirely unrelated to his major. One of his favorites was “Current Issues in Anthropology: Money, Sex, Nation” in the anthropology department. Another was “The Novel in Europe and the Americas.” “The professor was so good,” he says. “It was worth it to read 300 pages a week.”

In addition to his academic work, Eshel was also managing editor of The Daily Princetonian, for which he wrote all four years. It’s no coincidence that some of his greatest idols are serious scientists who moonlight as successful writers — figures like Oliver Sacks and Atul Gawande. As managing editor, Eshel oversaw the entire news division of the independent student paper, entering the office after dinner and often staying until 2 a.m. or later.

A lifelong clarinet player, Eshel was also a proud member of The Klezmocrats, Princeton’s klezmer band. Post-graduation, he plays clarinet in chamber groups and a local orchestra.